By KABS KANU
Sierra Leone has suffered a major international and diplomatic snub from her former colonial master, Britain and the Commonwealth . The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles , accompanied by his wife, Princess Camela, is visiting former British West African colonies but Sierra Leone has been cut out completely from the tour. He is visiting Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia only, though Sierra Leone is another key former British colony in the same subregion.
This is a very important tour by the future British king, who is also the Prince of Wales, because it is his first overseas trip to Commonwealth countries since he was designated the next head of the Commonwealth , which consists of a group of 53 nations that include Sierra Leone. According to the AFRICANNEWS Magazine, the aim of the Prince’s trip is to reaffirm his commitment to the Commonwealth West African countries. Even more importantly , the Prince of Wales’ personal website said this of the tour : “The Royal visit will celebrate the U.K.’s dynamic, forward-looking partnerships with these Commonwealth Nations on a range of shared priorities. The visits will highlight key themes in these relationships, including the importance of our Commonwealth ties. ”
This will definitely beg the question : Is Sierra Leone excluded from the partnership ? Is Sierra Leone not a partner on these range of shared priorities ? If not, why not ?
The article explaining the tour makes an even more significant disclosures that are foreboding for Sierra Leone : “In all three nations, Their Royal Highnesses will take part in commemorative events to acknowledge the sacrifice made by Gambian, Ghanaian and Nigerian soldiers during the First and Second World Wars, and in more recent times during international peacekeeping missions.”
Also, imagine the beautiful things the Prince is saying about other countries in the same trajectory : “As my wife and I prepare to embark on our upcoming tour of The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria, I did just want to take this opportunity to send you all our special greetings and to say just how much we are looking forward to meeting so many of you … This will be the first visit to The Gambia for us both although we have heard so many wonderful things about the beauty of its natural environment and the resilience of its people.” This demonstrates the Prince’s excitement to visit these former British colonies . Why does the Prince not have the same excitement for Sierra Leone ?
This is a definite and classic snub and the decision to exclude Sierra Leone may have strong diplomatic ramifications. The snub could be due to a number of damaging reasons. Since President Maada Bio came to power in March, he has engaged in widespread human rights abuses which have sparked massive demonstrations against him in New York and London by concerned Sierra Leoneans. Prince Charles might be sending a very strong message that under his watch the Commonwealth will not countenance any member that does not respect fundamental human rights . The massive demonstrations against President Bio in New York and London, in addition to the strong anti-Bio advocacy in the British Parliament by Labour MP Neil Coyle, may have struck the right chord . COCORIOKO learns that even the British Government itself is displeased with President Bio and may have considered a royal visit to Sierra Leone undesirable at this time . It is also possible that the British do not consider Sierra Leone a safe destination presently for any member of the royal family, given the destabilizing influences of President Bio’s junta-style of governance.
Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) supporters take delight in denying obvious facts and downplaying anything that does not go their way and will obviously way this snub away with contemptous disdain but anybody who understands international politics and diplomacy will certainly see this as a bitter and detrimental setback in the international arena for President Bio and the SLPP Government .